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Wetland conservation at the heart of scholar’s pursuit

Posted: 27 April 2023

Agriculture, Environment, Rural development, Scholar experience,

Thazin Saw was working as a senior conservation officer at an international conservation NGO for four years in Myanmar that was trying to conserve the transition zone of Indawgyi Biosphere Reserve area prior to becoming an Australia Awards Scholar.

Her work experience revealed challenges in conservation that Thazin Saw felt needed to be addressed. She wanted to know more about the current species and distribution of agricultural birds, and conventional and natural farming practices. She learnt that there was a shortage of domestic technical experts and conservation instruments available in Myanmar that could support agricultural and environmental challenges.

This led her to look for ways she could upgrade her own education to make a positive impact upon conservation in Myanmar, which in turn, led her to Australia Awards.

Thazin applied to become an Australia Awards Scholar in 2019 as part of the 2020 intake. In her application she proposed to research an assessment of agricultural practices and their impact on agriculture and birds in Indawgyi.

Agriculture is an important industry in Myanmar and Thazin Saw wanted to contribute to the conservation of important wetlands. She explained,

“Agriculture is the main industry in Myanmar, accounting for 60 percent of the GDP, and rice remains the country’s most crucial agricultural commodity. It is important to know the consequences of current agricultural practices on biodiversity living around the farmlands.”

Having identified that there was no form of assessment in Indawgyi, or in Myanmar more broadly, she proposed to study the impacts of current agricultural practices towards developing more sustainable agricultural practices that could be applied around the country.

As an Australia Awards Scholar, Thazin Saw is now undertaking a Master of Ecosystem Management and Conservation at The University of Melbourne.

She found her move to Melbourne convenient and said, “I have received a lot of guidance from Australia Awards. Before I came to Australia, I received instructions to apply for a bank account, enrolment instructions, housing guide, and how to book a course advice appointment. When I arrived in Australia, I participated in a mentoring program and Introductory Academic Program (IAP) which has been helpful throughout my study.”

Thazin Saw has been inspired by how the government in Australia manages urban forests by creating parks and gardens so people and nature can live together.

She wants to apply these lived experiences and studies from Australia to her home country of Myanmar by creating a network of environmental restoration associations upon her return.

She encourages other aspiring Australia Awards applicants and says of her Australia Awards application experience, “that presenting your true and own story when answering the written questions will make your application unique, and you will answer interview questions smoothly.”